07Dec2012

Everest Base Camp Day 3 – First Sight of Everest

First Sight of Everest-3

Everest Base Camp The Lazy Way – Day 3

First Sight of Everest

It is not, exactly, that our legs hurt, but even the sight of “more sodding steps” prompts an inner revulsion, as we set off up the hill (but of course!) for our first sight of Everest, from the highest point of Namche Bazar.

And…

Gentle reader. Standing in a high meadow surrounded by tall peaks – Everest, Lhotse, the witch’s finger of Ama Dablam, another new favourite mountain – is, well, pretty darn amazing.

Frankly, it’s worth ANY amount of steps.

Because we are looking at Mount Everest! The highest mountain in the world! A peak that folk thought unclimbable until Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay managed it in 1953.

Sagamartha. Chomalungma. Or Eve-rest (as in Adam) — how it was originally pronounced.

Call it what you will. Our jaws are on the floor. Zac pulls out his camera and makes a panorama.

And Nir takes a rare shot of the two of us together.

Everest Base Camp trek: Zac and me in front of Everest, in Namche Bazar.

Everest is, as Zac remarks, by far the ugliest of the mountains. It’s a big, slabby, broad, dark pyramid, that feels overweight beside the delicacy of the surrounding peaks (“himal” in Nepali).

We can only see the very top of it. Because of the angle, the blessing that means that for every fifteen minutes walking in a Himalayan valley you get a brand new view, it actually looks smaller than its surrounding peaks.

And, at least from this angle, it really does lack the power, the drama, the presence of Lhotse.

But… Here’s the thing. The Everest Base Camp trek, the Gokyo Valley and, insha’allah, the Cho-La pass – none of these things are primarily about looking at Everest.

Not for the aesthetics, anyway.

It’s about setting foot on the highest mountain on this earth, making your way to the starting point of a pilgrimage to the roof of the world. With Everest Base Camp, the truism is truer than ever. It’s really not the destination. It’s the journey.

And right now, we’ve seen where we’re headed to.

And that, as we stand in a highland meadow by one of those drystone helipads that fleck lower-altitude villages in Nepal, watching a rescue helicopter racing up the valley, is just bloody great.

Everest Base Camp trek: Kong De viewed from Namche Bazar.

Even if, in all honesty, I still have a weakness for the slabby precipitous grandeur, the cascading cliffs of Kong De, a peak that feels so close we could touch it.


You can read the first post in this series on Everest Base Camp with kids here. Click here for the previous post and here for the next post.

If you’re thinking of doing the Everest Base Camp trek, I recommend my Everest Base Camp FAQs.

21 Comments

  1. I love reading your stories about the EBC trek. I will be doing it in March next year. I can”t wait, but am pooing myself at the same time, as I don’t know what to expect and if that damn altitude sickness will get me or not.

    • Theodora says:

      I’m going to do some enormous how-to posts on this, but the key thing is to allow yourself the flexibility to take a LOT of acclimatisation days if needed. That means going with a local porter, porter-guide or guide, rather than a guided group — they tend to take people up too fast, route march them, and most of the ones we’ve met have been mainlining Diamox to cope with the altitude (not good).

  2. Jennifer says:

    What a beautiful sight! Your son is one lucky little man to be experiencing such amazing adventures.

  3. Anne-Marie says:

    I take it you’ve found somewhere to get cash? Loving these posts!

  4. Ainlay says:

    Crap, that looks far away!

    • Theodora says:

      You know, I hadn’t even thought of it like that? The crazy thing is how a mountain can yoyo between feeling so close you can touch it and miles upon miles upon miles away…

  5. Tracy says:

    Noah and Hayley are absolutely amazed that their friend Zac is on his way to check out the tallest mountain in the world! I’ve been showing them the photos of glacier lakes and mountains, they are suitably impressed but say no thanks to all the walking.

    Meanwhile, perhaps it’s time to start considering trekking in heels. The boy is catching up with you in height!

    • Theodora says:

      We’ll have to get Zac and Noah back together once we’re back in the land of free internet and electricity… And, yeah, he’s gaining on me. I’m still at least double his weight, unfortunately. Not to mention being at least 10kg heavier than our porter-guide. *sigh*

  6. Reena says:

    That looks like a really long way up! Beautiful, yes, but high!

    • Theodora says:

      It’s about 3500m, which is, I think, pretty high for many places: it’s more than twice the height of the highest peak in the UK, and higher than the highest peak in Australia. But, for the Himalayas, it’s relatively low.

  7. These posts are so nicely thrilling, because they make it real. It’s there. You two are there, mom and kid. Means fewer obstacles of thought for the rest of us. The straightforward views in the snapshots make it easier to imagine being near Everest. It never seemed realistic before, never made it to consideration. But this is one big thing about your blog: you make visiting the places you go imaginable for those who haven’t yet been. Some people are going to have radically different and better lives.

    • Theodora says:

      Thank you so much for your comment, David. All these things are a lot easier than you think once you’re actually doing them. It’s taking the decision to do them that’s so hard.

  8. Matt says:

    You sure picked a cold time of year to visit EBC. Hope you still have all your fingers.

    We live in Kathmandu so if you need any tips for the city, just email.

    We actually came across your blog because we were looking for advice about visiting Halong Bay and getting away from the over-visited areas. You seemed to have a good experience – which not everyone does. Did Cat Ba seem like the kind of place where you can just show up and find a good junk to take you out for a couple of nights? Or do you think you struck lucky with Mr Lo & co?

    • Theodora says:

      I had heard Mr Lo was the best deal in town, but I’m guessing if you’ve got Nepali negotiation chops you can probably cope with your own charter. There are a lot of boats loitering around, but it’s not as though you can’t walk down the front without being hassled by boatmen — it’s not like, say, the Nile.

      Whatever you do, do not take a group boat — they look overwhelmingly horrid and you’ve got no control of where you go. And, yeah, I’ll be emailing you for foodie tips on Kathmandu. In Lobuche at the moment, gagging for salad and rare meat…

  9. Incredible stuff T…has to be a great feeling standing so close to the top of the world!

  10. Izy Berry says:

    You’re having a really great adventure! I never knew that Everest means in fact Adam. That’s so smart :)

    • Theodora says:

      Well, not exactly! I didn’t write that very clearly. It’s named for a nineteenth century surveyor, George (?) Everest. But he pronounced his name EVE-rest, not EVER-rest, if that makes sense. This region is a paradise for pedants ;-)

  11. Micki says:

    What a great adventure! I think I’d be happy to get just this far, and take in the great views.

    • Theodora says:

      And, you know what, Micki, a lot of people do just that? They hike up to Namche, do a couple of days hiking around Namche at similar elevations, and come home very happy. It’s eminently worthwhile…

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